His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock.
Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man – though he prefers to call himself a “continuous improvement” specialist. And he happens to be the new face of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the country’s foreign intelligence agency.
Hampton took up the job a month ago, and has been spending that time getting his feet under the desk, and also getting up to speed with the cloak and dagger world of terrorism, cyber threats and, yes, “Five Eyes”, the shadowy five country intelligence sharing arrangement which has been at the centre of international controversy in recent years.
Given that controversy, it’s not surprising Hampton wanted to reassure himself that, no, the GCSB “don’t actively monitor the emails and internet use of the general population”, the allegation that has been central to much of the debate about the role of our intelligence agencies since the “Snowden leaks” forced their secret activities out into the open.
Snowden has never made the allegation that intelligence agencies ‘actively monitor the emails and internet use of the general population’. He’s claimed that they harvest it or have back-door access to it all so they can spy on whoever they target at will. Intelligence agencies find it very convenient to pretend that a different allegation was made so they can indigently deny it, because that’s preferable to admitting that yeah, actually they can spy on us any time they want with little accountability or oversight. Also amusing how he leads with terrorism, even though nothing that ever comes to light about what these agencies get up to ever has anything to do with terrorism.